Know your History Part 3 by Saptashree: Tipu Sultan is being hailed as the tiger of Mysore, the foremost of the freedom fighters and Tipu Jayanthi is being celebrated in the state government to commemorate his birth anniversary. But the question here is, does he really worth all the hype. Let’s walk down the lanes of history to see why exactly he doesn’t deserve all the heroism bestowed on him.

Tipu Sultan was a tyrant, earning the epithet of ‘Aurangzeb of South’ during his reign. He deliberately asked the French to colonise India to fight off the English. He was ok if India would be colonised by French. The most authentic accounts of his tyranny were the handwritten journals of Francois Fidele Ripaud de Montaudevert, who was sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to assist Tipu in fighting against the British.

It starts with these words (in old French): “I, Francois Ripaud, am old today, but I want to tell you the true story of Tipu Sultan.” Another diary entry in which Ripaud is appalled at what he witnessed in Calicut (Kozhikode): “Most of the Hindu men and women were hanged, first mothers were hanged with their children tied to their necks. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and des­troyed.

Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammedans, and similarly, their men (after conversion to Islam) were forced to marry Moha­mm­edan women. Christians who refused to be honoured with Islam were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately.” These events were corroborated by Father Bartholomew, a famous Portu­guese traveller, in his memoir, Voyage to East Indies.

Writes Sandeep Balakrishan in his book ‘The Tyrant of Mysore’. The intensity of Tipu’s raid was so terrifying that hundreds of temple priests fled to Mangalore along with their families. Worship came to a permanent halt in several temples. Some temples were covered with leaves in order to conceal their presence. The Maletirike Bhagavati temple at Virajpet is a good example of this.

Equally, the renowned Omkareshwara temple in Madikeri was about to meet the same fate — the then ruler at Madikeri panicked at the approach of Tipu, removed its tower and replaced it with a dome so that it looked like a mosque from afar. The temple continues to retain this appearance till date. In his raid of Napoklu near Madikeri, Tipu destroyed the temples in the surrounding villages of Betu and Kolakeri.

(Picture Source: ShankhNaad)

The fact that Tipu is being hailed as a pioneer of the Indian movement of independence is like rubbing salt to the wounds of the Kodavas, Coorg and Mysorean Brahmins. Since it is done for political gains where are we heading as a nation?